Unite: Open letter to Ed Davey about tanker driver dispute

Unite calls on Ed Davey to intervene in tanker driver dispute

Britain’s largest union, Unite, has today (Tuesday, 27 March) urged Ed Davey, Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, to intervene in the tanker driver dispute over minimum standards and growing instability in the oil industry.

In the letter, published below, the union urges the cabinet minister to help avoid confrontation by bringing to the table all the stakeholders in the industry. The letter also points out that minimum standards operate across the rest of the oil industry and should apply to the distribution of fuel as well.

The full letter from Unite assistant general secretary, Diana Holland, which lays out minimum standards for the fuel distribution industry is as follows:

The Rt Hon Ed Davey MP 27th March 2012
Secretary of State for the Department of Energy and Climate Change
3 Whitehall Place

Dear Ed Davey,

This letter is to welcome your call for talks to take place on the serious situation in the oil distribution sector. You aimed your message at Unite. But it is the oil companies, retailers and employers that are currently the barrier. Let me confirm, Unite is strongly committed to talks and to achieving a negotiated resolution.

This is what we told Energy Minister, Charles Hendry when we met him on 5 March.

Unite’s aim is not industrial action. We have been tireless in seeking talks to avoid industrial action, but we have been frustrated at every turn. This is a vital, specialist sector distributing a highly dangerous, volatile substance of very high value – each tanker load is worth approximately £28,000 to the Treasury in fuel duty.

Through your interventions it is clear that you recognise the strategic importance of this industry. We need minimum standards to create stability, to ensure and protect all involved in the sector and our communities. Minimum standards operate in the upstream oil sector – they also need to apply downstream.

The government can help avoid confrontation by bringing to the table all the stakeholders in the downstream oil distribution sector: employers, oil companies, retailers and the trade union with an agreement to establish minimum standards in a timely fashion, covering:

  • Health and Safety procedures, processes and practices
  • Independently Accredited Training
  • Portable Sector Pension
  • Minimum Standards in relation to rates of pay, hours of work and working/holiday/sickness/redundancy arrangements
  • Equal Opportunities
  • Grievance and Disciplinary procedures
  • Trade union facilities

Let me be totally clear, a commitment from oil companies, major retailers and employers to meaningful negotiations in a timely fashion around these issues will avert this strike. We seek government assistance and pressure for this reasonable objective.

I look forward to hearing from you,
Yours sincerely,

Diana Holland, Assistant General Secretary Transport


For further information contact the Unite press office on 020 3371 2065, or Alex Flynn, Unite head of media and campaigns on 020 3371 2066 or 07967 665 869 or Chantal Chegrinec, Unite campaigns officer, on 07774 146 777.

Notes to editors
Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with 1.5 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.